Millsaps College


Links for Evaluating Sources Activity
Popular vs. Scholarly Sources
Below is a chart that is from page 180 of Easy Writer:


Scholarly

Popular

Title often contains the word Journal

Journal usually does not appear in title

Source is available mainly through libraries and library databases

Source is generally available outside of libraries (at newsstands or from a home Internet connection)

Few or no commercial advertisements

Many advertisements

Authors are identified with academic credentials

Authors are usually journalists or reporters hired by the publication, not academics or experts

Summary or abstract appears on first page or article; articles are fairly long

No summary or abstract; articles are fairly short

Article cites sources and provide bibliographies

Articles may include quotations but do not cite sources or provide bibliographies



Develop a Search Strategy
Library catalogs and databases work differently than Internet search engines and require some specialized search techniques. You can't type your whole thesis statement or research question into a library database.

WHAT IS YOUR TOPIC OR RESEARCH QUESTION?
Write a research statement or question that describes your topic.
__________________________________________________________________________
Examples:
Women should have to register for the selective service in the United States.
Do violent video games have a negative psychological effect on children?
 
STRATEGY 1: IDENTIFY KEY CONCEPTS
Circle or underline the key concepts in your research statement
__________________________________________________________________________
Example:
Women should have to register for the selective service in the United States.
 
STRATEGY 2: COMBINE DIFFERENT CONCEPTS WITH AND
Write your key concepts and combine them with AND
__________________________________________________________________________
Example:
Women AND selective service AND United States
 
STRATEGY 3: IDENTIFY SYNONYMS
Write down synonyms for your key concepts. Use a thesaurus if needed.
__________________________________________________________________________
Examples:
Women= female
Selective service= draft
United States= America
 
STRATEGY 4: COMBINE LIKE CONCEPTS WITH OR
Take each set of synonyms from strategy 3, combine them with OR and put parenthesis around them.
__________________________________________________________________________
Examples:
(Women or woman or female)
(Selective service or draft)
(United States or America)
 
STRATEGY 5: TRUNCATION
Truncate words as appropriate, being careful not to over or under truncate.
__________________________________________________________________________
Examples:
 (draft* will retrieve draft, drafted, drafting)
 
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Put it all together and decide what you will type in the computer. 
__________________________________________________________________________
Examples:
(Women or woman or female) and (Selective service or draft*) and (United States or America)
 
If you get too few results; check spelling, use fewer search words, try variations of your search terms or acronyms for your search terms, try different abbreviations or use complete words rather than abbreviations, play with your search terms.  This might seem like a complicated process, but even if you just use strategy 1 & 2...you will get better results.
Finding scholarly books
Books will give you an overview and background information about your topic and and for some topics can also give a detailed analysis. Try these steps to get the best books on your topic.

Step 1:
Search the Millsaps Library Catalog which provides access to scholarly books and resources found in the Millsaps Library.

Or search in Big Search and click the check box for "Limit to Library Catalog Only."

Keyword Searching
Figure out the best search terms for keyword searching using the search strategy above, and start searching! Click Millsaps Library Catalog and type the search strategies you came up with above into the "Words or Phrase" box.

If you get stuck, try a broader search. The books you find may have some information on your specific topic in the index or tabel of contents.

Step 2: Grab the books off the shelf
and check them out
You need the location, call number and be sure to check if the book is checked out/in.
Tip: Books on the same topic are shelved together, so when you find your book look at nearby books.
Link to listing of Library of Congress Classification Outline

Step 3: Search for eBooks

You may be able to find relevant eBooks on your topic through the library's subscription to an academic collection of eBooks from EBSCO that includes over 100,000 eBooks. These eBooks can be found as results in Big Search and in a separate eBook database. Here is a guide on the library's eBooks.

Step 4: If you can't find the books you need at Millsaps, you can use http://millsaps.worldcat.org to find books and have them delivered.

Use similar search terms to the ones above, but you might be able to use slightly narrower terms because in this case you are searching all of the libraries in the world. For example, you might have had to use the terms women and ancient in the Millsaps Library Catalog, but now be a bit narrower and try:
women and sports and ancient

When you find a book that looks interesting, click on its title and read about it. If you would like to get it delivered, click the orange "Request via Interlibrary Loan button" - the book will be delivered to the library, and we will email you when it arrives.  You will need to use it right away and return it because there are fines of $1 a day for each Interlibrary Loan book that is late. More information about Interlibrary Loan: http://www.millsaps.edu/library/library_interlibrary_loan.php
Finding scholarly articles
When searching for scholarly articles, you can use Big Search to search across most of our databases, or you can search in a specific database.

While Big Search can be convenient, there are some advantages to searching in specific databases. For example, JSTOR and Project MUSE results are not always easily found in Big Search. You can find more results from these databases by searching in them individually.

Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • Peer review is the process by which an author's peers, recognized researchers in the field, read and evaluate a paper (article) submitted for publication and recommend whether the paper should be published, revised, or rejected.
  • Peer review is a widely accepted indicator of quality scholarship in a discipline or field. Articles accepted for publication through a peer review process meet the discipline's expected standards of expertise.
  • Peer-reviewed (or refereed) journals are scholarly journals that only publish articles that have passed through this review process.

To ensure you are finding articles from peer-reviewed journals, click the check box for "Limit to Peer Reviewed" in Big Search or in the database you are searching. If you are unsure if an article is from a peer-reviewed journal, you can try finding the website for the journal online and see if it states it is a peer-reviewed journal. You can also ask a librarian if you are unsure.

Choosing Keywords

You could start by using the same keywords you used to search for books. You will get many more results for articles so you can then narrow down your results. You can add in more specific search terms to your broad terms. As you begin reading in books on your topic, you will find you are interested in specific aspects of the time period and place you are researching. You can use some of the terms you find in your readings to search for journal articles.

Instead of women ancienct greece, you could search more specifically for: pythagorean women

Article Abstracts
When looking through search results for articles, you can click into the article to find the abstract. An abstract acts as a summary of the article and can tell you more about an article than the title and publication information alone. You will still need to read the article, but the abstract can help you decide whether it is an article that fits your topic enough to spend the time reading.
Research Help
Picture: Library / Main Desk

Library / Main Desk
librarian@millsaps.edu
Tel: (601) 974-1073

Evaluating Sources (CASA)
Currency

-Up-to-date terminology and facts

Authority
-Qualifications or credentials of the author, editor, contributors

-Are submissions peer reviewed?

Scope

-What topics are covered? How detailed is the source?

Accuracy

-Does the content seem credible? Is the evidence verifiable?

It is important to critically evaluate all information you encouter. Closely look at where the information is coming from. If an author's credentials or citations are not available, then a source is not able to be verified as trustworthy.

Can't find it at Millsaps?
If your article or book is not available at Millsaps Library, you can request a copy through Interlibrary Loan.

Allow at least a week for an article to arrive and two weeks for a book to arrive. If your article is delivered in electronic format, you'll receive an email with the article attached as soon as it has arrived.
Core 1 PowerPoint
Here is the PowerPoint from the Core 1 library instruction sessions: library.millsaps.edu/Core 1.ppt